Congress Approves Bill Establishing a Publicly Available Database With Details on Earmarks

By Jeffrey Brainard
Congress has approved a bill establishing a Web-based, Google-like search engine to provide a single, public source of information about federal contracts and grants, including projects financed through academic earmarks.
The move was part of a flurry of activity in Congress this week to provide more transparency and accountability for earmarks, the noncompetitive awards secured by lawmakers for colleges and other constituents. The House of Representatives approved on Thursday a rules change requiring that all Congressional sponsors of earmarks be publicly identified.
The move for increased disclosure came as Congressional Republicans face low poll ratings and a November election. Critics fault the party for presiding over an explosion in earmarks for colleges and other recipients since Republicans took control of Congress in 1994.
But it was unclear whether the increased sunshine would reduce the number of these set-asides — many members of Congress and college officials already boast openly about specific earmarks they obtain.
Read the complete Chronicle of Higher Education article.

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